Restoration…….(kind of like what God does with us.)

Behold, I show you a new thing……..Isaiah 43:19

Just a very partial showing of Elaine’s restoration projects I thought I would showcase today……..My Prayer Closet out of her Mom’s old beat up dresser, a window covering you can open and close, a candy scale that was sad, corroded and forgotten, and a new table for my Aunt’s wash area! It is amazing living with a restorer and creator.

And her latest, the iron was weathered and tarnished and the wood just about gone…….we were about to throw out until I said (as we were dragging it to the scrap heap)……..”Wow, this iron frame is heavy, it’s a shame to not save it!”

And the newest Lubester……..

I love how she sees things. A piece of wood is never tossed out……she has a vision for what it could be made into. And the old rusty and forgotten is seen for what it once was and what it can be again.

This is the beauty of what God longs to do in each of our lives, my friends.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

And now she is outside building a cat house for the neighbor’s cats. They have the whole acreage here to run around in but they have decided home base is the Motorhome. Well, they were neglected and the neighbor is hardly ever home so a handful of food here and there become a twice daily regular feeding time.

Like I said, this is just a sampling of what she’s done over the years and for many recipients other than myself over the years, given away as labors of love. God has blessed the work of her hands as she blesses others. She amazes me.

I am so glad God has chosen not to leave me on the scrap heap. He is the Creator and Restorer of all times and all seasons, and that includes me and you.

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Always just a little bit of mystery isn’t there? God has the right to keep some things under wraps, but someday all will be perfectly explained and understood.

Enjoy the beauty of His creation this weekend. I leave you peace…….

 

 

Happy Birthday to my bestie

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“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

“Two are better than one, for they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

Here she is in her happy place and it made me glad she could be there. There I can see in her face that her burdens are lightened. Today, I honor her because everyday she does things for me and makes my life a blessing.

She is God’s girl.

She’s the one who pays for the person ahead of her at Sonic Burger and never tells a soul, but I find out. Just the other day when she went in to pay for my cookies at the bakery, she noticed a WWII veteran struggling to open the door (he had a cap on).  She opened the door for him and then paid for his order without him knowing…….these are the kinds of things she does everyday and I always tell her, “God is smiling on you….”

She lives out her faith in a simple practical way by noticing strangers who need help……by leaving the last serving of what she thinks I might want. She loves until it hurts.

She does things for my Aunt every single day without saying a word because she knows living here is a blessing and she cares for her and my whole family. She breathes life into situations and life into a party. She moved with me all the way to this state even though it meant leaving a life and friends she loved.

She was always the one to work out difficult situations at work. She was the one they sent to train the “challenge” person. She never made the big sales in Insurance because she wouldn’t sell little old people something they couldn’t afford.

I know I make her sound like somewhat of a saint, and she is in the “Christian” definition. But like all of us, she knows her failings, but everyday her motto is to make something a little better than it was before. We all need someone in our lives that sees the best definition of us and she is that for me.

Only God knows her better than I do.

She encourages me every day, but she also loves me enough to let me know when I am not being honest with myself. Sometimes best friends have to be tough as well as tender, if they truly love.

Today I honor her life. For 28 years we have been best of friends. Through moves, up s and downs, victories and failures, joys and heartache, but most of all laughter. She lights up my days and I thank God for her.

She’s my friend, my sister in Christ, my soul-mate who laughs at all the same things I do.  Happy Birthday, Elaine Dupree!

 

The Thrill of Hope

 

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The rain is watering the earth and I can almost feel it breathing a sigh of relief. You have just left and it’s the cat and me for a few days. There is a vacuum in the space where you used to be. Sometimes it’s those small things you take for granted that are the most keenly felt when someone you care about is no longer there.

Things, life, the world goes on even in the wake of losses great and small. All over the world and in many different situations people are waving goodbye; all kinds of faces tinged with emotions reflected in retreating tail-lights. Psychiatrists, counselors and ministers devote much of their time helping people deal with it. That monstrous thing we call loss.

It is raining harder now and the air grows colder inside my space. I see your handiwork wherever I look, traces of you and how you always make things work better. I open the pantry and see the motion light you put there, and everything is just so.

You are going back to a happy place and to see friends. Old friends, old footprints retraced. Everything will be clean and bright the way I remember and you will have sun and that makes my heart glad for you.

It was quite a life we had there and a good one. It was like a foreign land at first, that desert. But it turned into a place that folded itself around us, comforted us in the loss of both your parents and all we went through with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and the grief that went with it.

My words seemed to flow more freely there in the little shop, my first prayer closet. A blog was born there to the backdrop of doves cooing, roosting on the rooftops next door.

Almost from the time we are born, our hearts and souls are acutely aware of a sense of loss and the fear that stems from it. Life at its most painful becomes synonymous with loss. Loss of a job we loved, loss of a loved one, death of a marriage, physical loss, loss of a home. Sometimes one loss turns into another. Such as when a deep loss turns into a bad habit. Then we have to kick the bad habit and we have that loss to deal with too.

But here is the big hope rests within and through all this. Here is where the story gets happy. That at the other end of this spectrum of loss, there is gain, without which we wouldn’t know loss at all. And that little word, gain, is what God is, and has always been concerned with.

For at the cross, His loss became our gain.

When we were determined to ruin ourselves and each other, God said, “No, I won’t let the story end this way.” He didn’t just write a happy ending. He came in physical form to become our happy ending. He came to fill that, as C.S. Lewis so rightly said, “God sized vacuum” in our hearts.

Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Christmas.

Alzheimer’s Diary…..A continuing lesson in love

And above all these put on <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>love, which <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>binds everything together in <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>perfect harmony. And let <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called <sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>in one body. And <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>be thankful. Colossians 3:14

I have probably tacked this verse onto the beginning of posts more often this year than any other. Have you put on your love today? This past year, I have had to start over time after time, day after day. As most of you know who read my blog on a regular basis, we are working on year two of Elaine’s Mom living with us.

It’s been tough, to say the least. Hygiene is an ongoing issue more and more. We are working on week 4 with no shower, again. The last time, Elaine had to physically get in the shower with her because she refused to put water on her head. And she was washing with shampoo. Incontinence is also a problem. She refuses to wear the undergarments so bedding has to be changed often….laundry done several times a day.

Because she has been increasingly combative, her dose of Anti-psych drug was doubled just this past week. We noticed the rage has been just barely contained….it’s always just under the surface. The pacing and the agitation seem to go hand in hand.

It is disheartening and sobering for Elaine to realize that right now if her Mom were not on the Seroquel she would be in a lock down unit as we speak. Her Mom still knows very well where she is, but when her Doctor tells her that if she won’t let people take care of her she has to go somewhere where they can, he is met with indifference, a shrug of her shoulders.

It has been a constant challenge for both of us to do that “putting on love” thing Paul is talking about. And I am on another trip to California to see my family on Sunday. It’s hard to be the one always left behind. For two years, she has had to watch others travel, go on weekend trips, vacations. That is what caretakers face every day…….for them life has stopped. They feel just as chained as if they were in stocks.

And how can life still feel like it’s at a standstill, when the workload never stops?

Please pray? For wisdom, and strength to bear up. To keep laughing somehow. To know when to say “when.”

Pray for strength and grace for me as well. That I can be the right kind of support. Too often I feel like the check marks on my own personal report card are screaming out a big red “fail.” But God knows my heart, thankfully.

I take comfort in the fact that He hears my prayers of forgiveness uttered after every exasperated blown out sigh……He knows we are all dust after all, nevertheless a kernel of God keeps us all preserved for eternity.

Praise God.

And more and more and more, we are craving the peace, the harmony that used to fill the house. We still have it for the most part, we just have to fight for it where before it was effortless.

Here is the magic formula that works for any and every situation:

Love + Peace = Harmony

I will need until every last breath to put it into practice.

Letting our light shine

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15

I need to give a shout out today to my best friend….yes, I am “using you” again, Elaine.

She has been on the job for only a few weeks, but she is shining her light in the workplace already. This is why I love her. She doesn’t wait for an opportunity, she just naturally shines. She already found out who the “Jesus Saves” truck belongs to in the parking lot at the school. Then she found out who “Jesus Saves” vehicle number 2 belongs to, (his wife). And she was so glad, because she really likes him.

The kids talk to her, like little doors they swing right open for her. They pour out everything, and sometimes too much. And so do her co-workers. She has already found out their stories. She finds out because she talks to them, much like Jesus did, I imagine. And she doesn’t ask just to be asking, she asks because she cares, and that shows.

The other day one co-worker hit another’s car in the parking lot and just left. Elaine knew how upset she was, so she stayed after work and buffed it out for her. When the co-worker came out to her car expecting to see the ugly scrape, she was astonished to find that she couldn’t even see where it had been hit. That’s my friend. That’s how she rolls. She just says, “I just do what I would like someone to do for me.”

That’s what Jesus was talking about when he said we were supposed to shine our light so that everyone in the world could see….

And I have watched her do this at every job she has ever had. Every company she has worked for. She gets to know the person who empties the garbage by name and never fails to greet them. Because she knows that person emptying the garbage is worth just as much to God as the big boss.

The other day when her training was complete, she went to Bosa donuts and bought 3 dozen for everyone she works with. They were astonished. “For us?” They said. Not only that, she didn’t buy cheap donuts, she went to buy the best because she wanted them to know she valued them and how they helped her along at a new job.

Just like Jesus made the “best wine” at that wedding.

She doesn’t brag about herself, so I will. ……..Lucky for her, she has a friend who blogs.

A bus filled with blessing

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3

She had almost forgotten about the application she had filled out for the bus driving position……almost but not quite. She was sitting by the computer when the phone lit up with an incoming call. The phone is turned all the way down so her Mom won’t run and answer it. In the past she had agreed to things over the phone “Oh, yes, you can come and service the air conditioner….” It has happened before.

It was the Apache Junction school district calling. She couldn’t believe her ears when he said, “How soon can you come in and see us?” For years, every now and then we would pass a bus and I would hear her say, “I would love to do that.”

For the past year and a half, her Mom has been her full time job, and it has been hard, especially for someone who has worked all their life.

So she went, and of course they loved her. Especially when they found out about her driving experience. They wanted her so badly they even pulled strings to get her in the August session of training.

And the schedule is such that she can come home between routes to check on her Mom……..and, it’s only just around the corner!

“This,” she said, “Is the first job that I have felt in a long time that is from God.”

I have waited for this, I have prayed for this…..for my dear friend who lives her whole life for others.

Whose hands are still partially numb from her last project for someone else.

Last night we sat at a restaurant as pictures came through my phone……there were two completed Mr. Potato heads, one my brother did and one my niece did. I smiled as I read the texts. “Sometimes, you just have to take time out to play Mr. Potato head with your girl,” he says.

As I scroll through, the phone rings in my hand and it’s my Mom.

“I was just having a glass of wine and thinking of you,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” she said, and she laughed. “Well,” I said, “I happen to think it’s a good thing, since I am having one too.” And we laughed together and she told me about her day. And I told her about Elaine’s new job…..

She whooped and hollered over the phone………”Oh, that is so great! She is just right for that job.”

Later I get a text from my brother. My Mom must have told him…..”CONGRATULATIONS to Elaine, Wooooooohooooooo. Bus driver for kids? Perfect. I am so happy.”

This, I think, is what it’s all about.

Rejoicing with those who rejoice. And I think of what a cornucopia is life. Some days so full of hardship you just want to sit in a corner and never come out, and then, blessings so rich that all you can do is lift your hands skyward.

Praise God from who all blessings flow.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
I was driving down the freeway when it hit. I felt that familiar feeling……..the shallow breathing, the knot of tears forming in my throat. They come sometimes without warning. It started as an ordinary task in an ordinary day. I was following Elaine because she was taking her car in.

I held it at bay, at arms length, because I have to get stuff done. I think it’s just life piling up sometimes, and it has to come out somewhere, sometime. I am no stranger to this feeling. It has always been with me.

One of the very first times I can remember was when I caved during a Christmas play at church.

I had one line, I don’t even remember what it was. Because all of a sudden all I wanted to do was get off that stage……I strained my eyes through the bright lights and all I wanted was to find my parents. And then I did.

The road blurred through tears. I breathed little puffs of air. I turned off the freeway and onto the street. Off to my right was man on the sidewalk wearing flip-flops, a Hawaiian shirt and shorts….and a guitar strapped around his shoulder. He was carrying on a very animated conversation, with himself.

Laughter bubbled up through the tears a little hysterically, I thought……..”I hope that’s not gonna be me someday soon.”

Then I thought of my childhood friend Mary. Mary of the big blue eyes and wonderful reading voice.

It was always either her or me the teachers chose for reading out loud. I still remember her singing a solo in a school fashion show, she sang “After the Ball” in a blue dress. I don’t know what happened with Mary but many years later my folks told me she would skate down the street in a full hockey uniform, helmet and all. She never played hockey a day in her life.

She died recently at my age, only 53. She had a daughter and I would love to see her.  I wonder if she had Mary’s eyes, and liked to read. I hope she will be okay.

Don’t we all dance a bit close to the border of crazy at times? I think you kind of have to, to live this life we all live.

As I caught sight of Elaine’s jeep through the maze of cars, right in the midst of my panic I thought…….”Thank you Lord.” Because all my life I have never had to go through this feeling alone, and some people have.

And this wonderful friend has been with me through so much. And I will tell her about this, and she will say, “Well, maybe you are a little bit crazy, but I understand, and everything is gonna be fine.”

Because after all, God has us. He really does.